The textile industry was the first to exploit the potentialities of power-driven machinery. Beginning with the spinning jenny in the 1760s, the use of machinery gradually spread to other processes.
The Industrial Society
The process of industrialization began in Britain. After the 1760s England enjoyed a long period of relative economic prosperity. Starting in the sixteenth century, a new group of landed proprietors—squires and townspeople— saw land as an investment; thus they were concerned with improved production and profit.
Economic change generally takes place gradually, and therefore some historians feel it is misleading to speak of an industrial revolution, since the process was clearly evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.
When the Liverpool and Manchester Railway line opened in September of 1830, the railway train—drawn by the Rocket, then the fastest and strongest of the locomotives—ran down and killed William Huskisson, a leading British politician and an ardent advocate of improving transport and communication, who had under-estimated its speed. This, the first railway accident in history, was symbolic of the new age to come, which benefited many, brought destruction to some, and transformed society far more rapidly than anyone had predicted.